Summary: Discover principles about the treatment of guests as you examine James’ teachings about partiality.
How should we treat guests? James devotes a section of his book to this subject. In James 2:1-13 James discusses partiality. He compares our treatment of rich guests as opposed to our treatment of poor guests. James condemns the sin of partiality. As we study James’ treatment of partiality we can draw significant insight into proper treatment of guests.
Notice four principles James identifies.
1. Always remember, our treatment of others is a reflection of our faith. The New Living Translation brings this out very clearly. "My dear brothers and sisters,how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others?" (vs. 1 NLT)
I once did an acrostic with the word first impressions that clearly communicates this concept.
First Impressions Reveal Spiritual Truth. The way you and I treat other people is definitely a reflection of our faith. The Bible says “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” I John 4:8
Illustration: In his autobiography, Mahatma Gandhi wrote that during his student days he read the Gospels seriously and considered converting to Christianity. He believed that in the teachings of Jesus he could find the solution to the caste system that was dividing the people of India. One Sunday he decided to attend services at a nearby church and talk to the minister about becoming a Christian. When he entered the sanctuary, however, the usher refused to give him a seat and suggested that he go worship with his own people. Gandhi left the church and never returned. “If Christians have caste differences also,” he said, “I might as well remain a Hindu.” That usher’s pride, prejudice, and partiality not only betrayed Jesus, but also turned a person away from trusting Him as Savior.
(Contributed to Sermon Central by Tom Jamieson)
The faith of that usher was revealed to Gandhi.
2. As we welcome guests we should not judge their appearance. Notice what James says "For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand there.” (vs. 2-3)
Illustration: Jesus once used a story of a poor lady that illustrates this point. “Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans. So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.” (Mk 12:41-44) Her giving appeared to be small; however, the Lord saw something else.
Illustration: This principle is illustrated in the selection of David to be king of Israel. Samuel had David and his brothers to appear before him for selection of the new king. The Bible says "when they came, that he looked at Eliab and said, “Surely the Lord’s anointed" But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
Illustration: Several years ago I attended a conference when the Lord taught me a valuable lesson about judging people by their appearance. As I got out of my car to enter the conference I noticed a tall slim girl walking into the conference building. This young lady wore a short skirt, that I would call a mini skirt. I quickly passed judgment on that girl based on how she was dressed. As I sat in the conference I found out that the young lady was a poor Russian student who had recently accepted Christ. She was a guest of the people who were leading the conference. The Bible says “God judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; God looks into the heart.”
3. We should see guests as God sees them. "Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?" (vs. 5)
Illustration: In Acts 9 we find the interesting story of the conversion of Saul. Saul had a shady background. He was a leading persecutor of the young believers in the early church. When he came to faith in Christ the believers saw his past rather than the potential of what he could become. They did not see him as God saw him. They, initially, refused fellowship with him.